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Wolfram Bott is the head coach of the German Triathlon Federation development center in Freiburg. This is a squad for some the most promising young talents in the country. Wolfram also has a decorated background as coach of long-distance athletes such as Nils Frommhold, Christian Brader, and Andreas and Michael Raelert.
In this Episode you'll learn about:
- Wolfram's coaching and training principles
- Periodisation, from structuring a season to structuring a week
- Key aspects in developing the swim, bike, and run, respectively
- Differences and similarities between short-course and long-course racing
- Tips for age-group athletes
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- My name is Wolfram Bott and I am 47 years old, I am living close to Freiburg in Germany.
I started triathlon myself at the age of 13, however, I realized quite fast that I would not be able to make a living out of being a professional triathlete myself and instead I pursued a career within coaching and I started studying sport science at the University.
Over the years I have been working for both the German and Luxembourg triathlon federations as well as has been personal coach of several prominent professional athletes such as Nils Fromhold and Andreas Raelert.
Currently I am working with a young development team close to my home in Freiburg.
Thoughts on coaching
- I try to be very close to my athletes since I believe the athletes are the ones who know their bodies best.
I learn my athletes of being very conscious of their bodies, i.e. developing a good ”body feel”, both in regards to what type of training they need and how much training load that they can handle.
- Training wise my philosophy is quite similar to the Norwegian’s way of training.
I believe that to become a world class triathlete you need to do rather high volume (25-30h/week), mainly at a fairly low intensity.
We mix up the low intensity volume with intervals, primarily conducted around the 2nd lactate threshold (anaerobic threshold), however, as we approach the season, the intervals are getting more and more race specific.
Sometimes we also focus on VO2max, by doing intervals at VO2max intensity.
- Before I adapted a rather classic reversed periodized approach to periodization, starting off by focusing on VO2max intervals during 6-8 weeks mixed up with very easy aerobic volume.
As the season was approaching, more and more volume and race specific work got a larger focus.
However, nowadays I do not implement so much of a periodized approach towards the season, instead we work with a fairly stable weekly training schedule, usually looking like:
Mon (easy day): Easy swim
Core and (for older athletes) 30-40mins easy run (pm) or easy bike
Tue: Hard swim
Hard run (high intensity intervals like hill reps or closer to the season race specific intervals)
Wed: Hard bike (this time of the year mostly VO2max intervals)
Thu: Long run
Fri (easy day): Easy swim (am)
Core and (for older athletes) 30-40mins easy run (pm) or easy bike
Sat: Hard swim
Hard bike or run
Sun: Long bike
On top of this, easy sessions are spread out.
- As the season approaches, we also do brick workouts 1-2 times per week, to start with shorter intervals at high intensity, which we then increase the duration of.
Discipline specific focuses
- Swimming: Technique is obviously crucial when it comes to swimming, we use to start the build up towards next season by focusing very much on the technique, from this we increase the speed, first on short distances, which we then extend more and more.
We also work on speed (really short super fast intervals, like 25m) and strength (mainly by doing medley and butterfly, not so much with pull buoy and paddles).
- Biking: It’s quite much the same as the swimming, early in the build up we work on technical aspects like riding on rollers, being competent on riding smoothly at a variety of different cadences (mainly high cadences), then we add strength work (low cadence intervals) and in spring time we increase the overall volume as well.
- Running: In the early build up we do a lot of hill reps and sprints to increase the speed, we also do plyometric training and drills to improve running economy/technique.
In general, I think having a good run economy/technique is very crucial for both long and short course triathlon.
Similarities and differences between long and short course triathletes
- Of course there are plenty of differences between long and short course athletes, but there are also many similarities, I would say that long and short course athletes could train 90 % together.
For long distance, bike volume is extremely important, which is not really the case for short course athletes (however, these triathletes need to be very resilient towards plenty of bursts and a highly dynamic race).
Another similarity is that both short and long course triathletes actually need proper speed training.
- I think strength training is really important, we do both core and weight training (from 17-18 years old).
Especially it is important for staying injury free.
- For the bike I do tests with Inscyd (lactate protocol), which I believe is the best testing service that exists right now.
Advice to age groupers
- The main issue for amateur athletes is to manage training load, it is really hard for a coach to estimate how much overall stress the athlete is experiencing from other aspects of life (work and family commitment, and this has a major role on training), therefore it is extremely important to have a good dialogue between coach and athlete.
- My advice in regards to training is that the less you train, the more intensity you can do, however, it is easy that it can get bit too hard.
- Sometimes I also think that many age groupers should ignore all the gadgets and the data and just go out and enjoy the training!
Rapid fire questions
- What’s your favorite book, blog or resource related to endurance sports? I have read two books in the last 3 months that I have enjoyed: The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters and Molecular Exercise Physiology by Henning Wackerhage.
- What is your favorite piece of gear or equipment? My bike!
- What is a personal habit that has helped you achieve success? Calmness.